Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1494, Jamaica is located to the south of Cuba and to the west of the island of Hispaniola. Here's the map.
Most of the diving occurs along the north coast at Negril and Montego Bay which is also great; Doctor's Cave beach features one of the most accessible spots on the island.
But one of Jamaica's most famous underwater sites is Port Royal or the 'City that Sank'. On June 7, 1692, an earthquake struck largely destroying the city and causing two thirds of it to sink into the sea. It is considered the most important underwater archaeological site in the western hemisphere. Pirates from around the world congregated at Port Royal coming from waters as far away as Madagascar on the far side of Africa. Several 17th and early 18th century pirate ships are sunk within the harbor and being carefully harvested under controlled conditions by different teams of archaeologists.
- The Throne Room - a 40-foot-wide cavern at 65 feet. You enter through a crack in the reef (25-30 feet long and about 8 feet wide) at about 40 feet. This is the place to see sponges. Huge yellow sponges and coral cover the wall from floor to ceiling. The site got its' name from a large elephant ear sponge on the bottom that supposedly looks like a throne.
- Widowmaker's Cave - probably the most famous dive off of the Montego Bay area. This site got its name from the cave in the James Jones novel, "Go to the Widowmaker". The cave starts in about 35 feet of water and goes to about 80 feet. You can enter it at 80 feet and slowly rise through the cave to exit through a chimney 10 feet wide and into about 35 feet of water. You can also go in the opposite direction - entering through the chimney and exiting at 80 feet. This dive is for experienced divers only.
- The wreck of the Kathryn near Ocho Rios - an old WWII Canadian minesweeper. 140 feet long, it sits in 50 feet of water. You can go into the wheel house which has an open top.
- Other popular dives include Rock Cliff Reef (for eels), Sharks Reef (nurse sharks) and The Arch (lots red sponges).
- A yellow fever vaccination certificate is requires from travellers over 1 year of age travelling from infected areas.
- Diving the city of Port Royal requires special permission from the Jamaican government in the the form of a diving permit which is best obtained from local dive operators. Rules regarding this dive site may change, so be sure to check with local operators for the most current information.
|Time:||GMT - 5|
|Natural hazards:||Hurricanes (July to October)|
|Diving season:||12 months|
|Water temperature:||Jan to March - 26C/78F|
|June to October – 28C/82F|
|Hyperbaric chambers:||Discovery Bay Marine Lab Chamber: 876 973-224|